Kurdish-EU conference calls Turkey for dialogue
by Roni Alasor
Brussels, 8 December 2016 - Middle East Diplomatic (MED) - The two days International Kurdish conference hosted by three political groups in the European Parliament under the patronage of several important Nobel prize winners, calls Turkey for peace and dialogue with the Kurds. The conference also calls the EU to be active in helping both Turkey and the Kurds to restart the peace process. Kurds reiterate their readiness to continue the dialogue from spring 2015 with the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. The conference delegates also call UN, USA, EU and international community to respect Kurdish self-determination in Rojava and the Kurdish peaceful demands for their fundamental human rights in the Kurdish regions in Turkey and Iran. Kurdish representatives underline the importance of Kurdish unity and strength to face the current historical challenges in the Middle East to not be again victims of the regional colonialist countries and the interests of the global powers.
13th International Conference on “The European Union, Turkey, The Middle East and The Kurds” was organised by EU-Turkey Civic Committee (EUTCC) in cooperation with the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D Group), the Greens and the European United Left – Nordic Green Left Group (GUE/NGL) and gathered several hundred participants from Europe, the Middle East Africa and USA.
HDP Co-President Selahattin Demirtaş, who had been invited to hold a speech was able to sent a message to the conference, EU, USA and international community: “The arrests of 10 HDP parliamentarians, over 50 co-mayors and hundreds of politicians are connected with the deepening crisis in the Middle East. The fact that we were arrested in ways that can only be seen in military coups or dictatorial regimes. But no one can ever prevent us from continuing our rightful struggle for freedom and democracy will continue even in prison. The trust and solidarity of our allies, wherever they may be in the world, will enhance our struggle”.
“Dear friends, we are witnessing a time where Middle Easter peoples suffer from war, destruction and migration. The political and social trauma of the Sykes-Picot agreement that was forced upon our region has reached its peak. The polarizing and violent policies that have been employed by the nation states in the region inflict heavy blows against our peoples’ hopes for salvation.The Erdoğan regime has already ended the already limited democracy in Turkey, and has been destroying the conditions for peoples coexistence in Syria and Iraq with its military and political interventions”.
Zubeyir Aydar, member of the Executive Council of Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) mentioned the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement, which, followed by Sevres and Lausanne, resulted in “Unjust and unfounded borders were drawn up and divided countries, peoples, tribes and families to create the 100-year issues of today”.
Regarding the situation in Turkey today, Mr. Aydar deplored the end of the peace process in spring 2015, but reiterated the peaceful Kurdish approach: “As the Kurdish side, we were sincere with our approach to a peaceful solution through dialogue and wanted to conclude the process with permanent peace. We remain committed to the proposals and views we expressed in both the Oslo process and the Imrali process. The termination of dialogue was not our decision. The process was ended unilaterally by Turkey”
Assassination plans in Europe
Mr. Aydar also pointed out the “dangerous plans of Erdogan against Kurdish opposition in Europe”: “They are in the lookout for planning similar incident to the assassination of 3 Kurdish women politicians in Paris on 9 January 2013. We have information from several sources recently, that they have sent teams of assassins to Belgium and other European cities to murder Kurdish politicians, I am one of the names in the list that is prepared to be assassinated! We are informing and cooperating closely with the EU countries on this issue”.
Mr. Aydar called for unity of all Kurdish organizations: “They need to come together urgently to discuss what kind of unity and what kind of a congress they will form. If this materializes, then the dangers will minimise. The opportunities for success are much larger the dangers. We will make all efforts necessary for this to materialize”.
Speaking in the conference, PYD Co-chair Salih Muslim said: The Kurdish people are fighting today for all the peoples of the region. These are humanitarian values. Today these values are under a great attack. Kurds are trying to protect these values, and for that they display great heroism. Our people were divided by the Sykes-Picot treaty a century ago, but today they have voided this treaty. The nation-state mentality needs to change. We need a revolution against the sexist mentality. This is what want to do in the region today”.
There have been systematically attacks from Turkish army on Rojava and Syria. ISIS and the jihadist groups didn’t just fall from the sky. Turkey and similar countries unleashed them upon the region. The relationship between Turkey and ISIS continues still. If they can, they will destroy all the gains in Rojava. They will even attack the gains in Southern Kurdistan.
The US tried to use the Kurds. But what happened was, they discovered them when the Kurds stopped ISIS. They understood the system the Kurds implemented. Now the whole world knows us. But there is this question: How will the US accept the Kurds that they didn’t accept before? We want to develop our relationship further. Before they refused us, but now they meet with us directly. However the PYD Co-Chair criticized the UN meetings and emphasized that they need to be invited.
Muslim also mentioned the Raqqa operation: Everybody thinks we launched the Raqqa operation on the US’ demand. That is wrong. Raqqa is at a strategic location. It is very close to Kobanê. So we launched this operation for the security of Rojava. We can’t let ISIS use Raqqa. Raqqa needs to be cleared of ISIS.
Mr. Hatip Dicle, Co-Chair of Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and Mr. Osman Baydemir, Parliamentarian and HDP Vice-President, called to Europe to defend HDP as representing core values like tolerance and peaceful coexistence of ethnic and religious minorities. The loss of HDP is loss of democratic freedom principles and human values of the West, said Mr. Baydemir. We are facing the same period as in the 30s of XX century in Germany. Many Kurdish towns and cities have been destroyed, nearly half million of Kurdish civilians became internally displaced and live in difficult conditions, many ten thousand of people have already been arrested, over fifty Kurdish mayors and ten Kurdish HDP parliamentarians have been jailed. If we continue to stay silent, there will be more victims. Therefore, we are asking EU to be involved actively before all ethnic and religious groups will be slaughtered again as during the last century, warned the former Mayor of Diyarbakir.
Uca Feleknas, former MEP and current Parliamentarian in Turkey from HDP, highlighted that “If there will be no solution of the Kurdish question, there will be also not peace in Turkey, the Middle East and Europe”.
"Turkish intelligence contribution dating back to the Cold War"
Michael Rubin, Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (USA), previously an official at the Pentagon with deep knowledge on Middle East, underlined the responsibility of Kurdish leaders in “getting their own house in order”. According Mr. Rubin, politically active Kurds should aim to reach non-Kurdish audience and shape a pro-Kurdish opinion in the West through diplomacy and lobbying. Kurdish movement should be open to win sympathy not only throughout the world, but to widen its support to the entire political spectrum, from left to right, said also the American scholar.
Mr. Rubin also added that Erdogan’s accusation, conspiracy and manipulation are based on Turkish intelligence, which is not “trustworthy”: “Turkish intelligence contribution dating back to the Cold War should be re-assessed”
Columbia University Institute for the Study of Human Rights Program on Peace-Building and Rights Director David Phillips said that "the dialogue between Kurds and Turkey wasn’t neither peace nor a peace process. There was a play. The Erdoğan administration should be put on trial for crimes against humanity. These criminal gangs should be given a red card. This could be launched in the name of UN human rights institutions and an appeal could be made to the International Criminal Court. The international institution should investigate the crimes in Turkey. This could be the Council of Europe".
Kamran Matin, Professor of International Relations from University of Sussex in UK told that "Turkey is working hard against all Kurds, especially in Geneva talks on the Syrian crisis. But no controversy can be resolved with the exclusion of an important actor in the controversy. The Geneva talks can only achieve success with the Kurds’attendance".
Well-known Turkish journalist and expert Cengiz Candar expressed his pessimism regarding the willingness of the current Turkish regime to re-start the dialogue process with Kurds: “The only agenda of President Erdogan is to have an enemy as PKK as life-vest to fight against Kurds”.
Journalist Fehim Taştekin expert in Middle East and in Turkish foreign policy: The people’s rightful demands evolved into a bloody process. This bloody process produced two models. One is the bloody model of ISIS, and the other is the Rojava model. Turkey stood with ISIS. Turkey fought against both Kurds and the Syrian regime. Turkey’s ISIS policies were exposed in 4 categories. First, they fought against the regime. It was seen as a revolutionary organization by Turkey. Second, it fought against Rojava and was used by Turkey. ISIS used Turkish borders, militants were dispatched. And these were overlooked, or supported. When Turkey started to be known for supporting ISIS, Ankara joined the international coalition very unwillingly. The so called Euphrates Shield operation initiative is to break down the image of supporting ISIS, preventing the Efrîn and Kobanê corridor, opening a breathing space for groups in Aleppo and creating space for Islamist groups in the region. If Erdoğan hadn’t kicked down the peace table with Kurds, it would have been different. Unfortunately, Turkey didn’t prefer this role. As a result, Turkey, on the path to taking democracy to the Middle East, lost its path and lost democracy.